Hacker steals at least 58 million personal records from data management firm

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Hardly a day goes by lately when we don’t hear about a massive data breach. Whether it’s a major retail outlet like Home Depot, an electronic auction service like eBay, or an online services company like Yahoo, no matter where your personal data resides it seems wide open to malicious attack. Research shows that there have been 2,928 publicly disclosed attacks so far in 2016 involving greater than 2.2 billion records in total.

Sometimes, you know that you’re a victim of a data breach, such as when Blue Cross Blue Shield company Carefirst was hacked and over a million records were stolen. Sometimes, however, as with the recent data breach at Modern Business Solutions (MBS), you may not even be aware that the company exists, according to security firm Risk Based Security.

Related: Target data breach forces CEO out the door

MBS is a company specializing in providing in-house data management and monetization services to other companies. If you’re an MBS customer, then you probably don’t even know it, and the 58 million stolen database records could belong to just about anyone.

The hacker who perpetrated the theft is known by the Twitter handle @0x2Taylor, and apparently the stolen data was posted multiple times over the past weekend. The data was quickly removed each time, but it included complete names, IP addresses, dates of birth, email addresses, vehicle data, and occupations. In other words, the data would be incredibly helpful for conducting further, highly individualized attacks such as identity theft.

Perhaps worst, the breach was made possible due to the use of an obvious attack vector. MBS was using an open MongoDB database, and apparently all that was needed for the attack to occur was for the IP address of that database to be communicated online. Rather than informing MBS of the security issue, whoever found the database leaked it to acquaintances instead. From there, the attack was both simple and straightforward.

At this point, there’s some confusion as to the actual number of records that were released. While it’s at least 58 million, it could be as many as 258 million based on an analysis of the database involved. While research is ongoing, it’s entirely possible that we’ll never know exactly how much data was released and who was affected.

Normally we would give various recommendations about being aware of where your personal data is being stored and to respond appropriately to any notifications of a data breach. In this case, there’s not much you can do except invest in a credit and data monitoring service of some sort to make sure you’re generally protected — because you never know when you might be attacked and not even know it.

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